Peter here focuses on what the aim of a Christian wife with an unconverted husband should be – his conversion. He says that ‘they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.’ Peter is not suggesting here that a wife should not speak to her unconverted husband about the gospel. Yet he is indicating that words by themselves will not be effective if her conduct is not appropriate.
Their apposite behaviour is described as ‘respectful and pure conduct’. It is not clear if the term ‘respectful’ refers to their attitude to their husbands or to God, although it can include both because the main reason why they would respect their husbands is out of respect to God. Purity of conduct means that their lives are free from unchaste words and actions.
This instruction by Peter raises the question as to how he knows it will be effective in winning the unconverted husbands of Christian wives. We could answer the question by merely saying that God is giving a gracious promise to such wives, which he is, and therefore it is an encouragement for holy living.
One implication that comes out of this requirement of godly living is whether or not the converted wife will trust God’s methods for converting her unconverted husband. It will require patience, may include disappointed hopes, and prolonged prayer. Yet such should remember that here we have one of God’s methods of influencing people in a saving way.